Sunday, July 12, 2009

How much power should hams be allowed to use?

There's a discussion going on at QRZ.com at the moment about how much power hams should be allowed to use. There was a poll with options that ran from 100W to 1.5KW (no option for QRP!) 1.5KW got by far the most votes.

Since the G8 summit at which carbon emissions targets would be discussed was in the news at the time the thread started, I chipped in with the tongue-in-cheek comment that if governments were serious about reducing carbon emissions, perhaps amateur radio communications should be limited to solar powered QRP. That comment was more or less ignored, apart from one individual who defended the use of high power by saying that the amount of carbon generated by QRO amateur radio operations was insignificant compared to other factors. In fact many people are arguing (and arguing quite coherently for QRZ.com) that powers of 5KW or more should be permitted. Not much concern for climate change among the ham radio community, then.

Readers of this blog will know from some of my Soapbox postings that I'm fairly sceptical that climate change is all our fault. But I'm even more certain that it is impossible for us to prevent it. The attitude that "what I'm doing makes an insignificant difference so there is no reason to change" is one of the main reasons I'm sure it's impossible to stop it. I dare say the people who blast past my little Hyundai in their large black V8-engined 4x4s using four times the amount of fuel think exactly the same thing, that their carbon emissions aren't going to destroy the planet.

If we really are facing climate change Armageddon then isn't it time governments started banning activities that make wasteful or inessential use of power, instead of asking people voluntarily to take ineffective measures like switching off the TV set instead of leaving it on stand-by? If and when that happens, I'll start taking the climate change threat seriously. Until then, I'll continue to believe it's just another scheme to enable some people to advance their careers, others to get rich, and the rest of us to pay more taxes.
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